I’ll be honest. I had no information regarding even the existence of this band prior to their name coming on the lineup for Transcending Obscurity’s “Thrashfest” gig in Mumbai. I liked their album cover – reminded me of those 90’s Industrial tinged Groove/Thrash albums by Prong, Helmet, Pantera, Fear Factory etc – and I decided to check them out. Curiosity nearly killed this cat. Their jackhammer-like riffs and howling vocals combined with songwriting that brings in influences from a wide array of music – both metal and non metal – had me suffering from whiplash long after their album finished. SystemHouse33, ladies and gents, is an Experimental Thrash/Groove band from Nagpur, India and has been active for the last decade or so, maintaining a healthy work ethic and incredible dedication in their effort to do what they love doing – making heavy music. With a decade gone and four albums under their belt, this interview with main-man Daniel D’Souza gives me the impression that these lads still have a lot to say and do. Catch them live on the 9th of February at “Thrashfest sponsored by Transcending Obscurity”
– Hey Daniel. How are the preparations for Thrashfest going?
Hey Hassan, the preparations are going really well, we are really honoured and humbled to be sharing the stage with the killer lineup that Kunal has put together. This is going to be one wild night!
– Not many know about the history of Systemhouse33 despite the fact that it’s been around for a decade now. Enlighten us regarding the formation of the act, lyrical themes and also the musical influences.
SystemHouse33 was formed in the quiet small town of Nagpur in 2003 when we were all just teenagers. The four of us grew up together and hung out a lot and it was just luck that at a college gig a random guy came up to us with a CD with some Pantera on it as well as some other bands and we were hooked on to Metal! Coming from a small town, it was tough to get exposure early on and we had to travel to Mumbai and other places to even get a look-in. However, once we started playing in Mumbai (Freakshow IV in Mumbai was one of our first decent gigs that had a great line up of bands) things started moving and we played a lot of gigs across India. Our lyrics are based around religions and social issues and how easily we devalue everything around us. We are influenced by a wide variety of music from Thrash, Death, Progressive, Blues and everything in between.
– “Depths of Despair” was your fourth full length album, no small feat in a region where most metal bands don’t even have the resources to put out a single album. How does the album compare to your past efforts in terms of musical evolution and production quality?
We started out being influenced by many bands, this has slowly changed as we have grown musically and personally. We started getting a little heavier as we went along and ‘Depths of Despair’ is more Experimental Thrash with elements of progressive metal and ambient themes.
– From what I know, your recording facilities are all home-based. Is recording at a home-studio a matter of convenience or necessity? What is the usual recording process at your studio like?
Its more of a necessity at the moment. Since the band is more like a DIY project, most of the tracks are recorded at Samron’s studio or my home studio and we send out the tracks for mixing and mastering. Akash Sawant has done a brilliant job on our latest album ‘Depths of Despair’. Work begins with Akash on our next album we are hoping to release that in the second half of the year.
– Systemhouse33 appears to have an artistic sensibility about it, something that transcends their music. I found out that the album artwork etc is all hand-painted on a canvas. Tell us a bit about that.
Its great that you asked me about that and thank you for the kind words! Marija Kovacevic from Serbia did the inlays for us, she has been a part of the bands artwork right from the first album ‘Discernment’ and she just understands our music at every level. There is this insane artistic connection with Marija, where even though the band is in another part of the world and we have never met she just totally gets our music and what its about. She is a true artist and the inlays are all her canvas work. We are really really lucky to work with such creative and artistic people.
– The band experienced a period of hibernation when you were in Australia. I find it curious why a musician would want to return to South Asia, while living in a place with a very vibrant and probably superior metal scene. Or am I mistaken?
Australia was great, there is no doubt about it. I saw and met a lot of bands and musicians from a wide spectrum of genres and learnt a lot. I even played in a few bands and worked on some solo-type material, but it was never the same as playing in SystemHouse33. As time passed I found that no other band will ever do it for me the way SH33 did, so I gave it all up and came back to play in this band that I love.
– You’ve been around for a decade. How has the Indian Metal scene changed during that time? Are things better now, or did the old days have a better “charm” about them?
I think with the advent of social media, bands and musicians can get their work seen and heard in a better manner than in the past. I remember in the past though, that the crowd turnout for gigs was way better than it is nowadays. I wish people came out to support live acts more. This is the only way the Indian Metal scene will continue to grow and gigs like the Thrashfest are a BIG step in that direction. Its going to be like a big party. The entire team is doing a great job, even with past gigs like Black Metal Krieg.
– Samron has a reputation for collecting guitars. What are his most prized or rare possessions?
Samron is a Dimebag Darrel freak! He owns around 6 rare Dimebag Darrel Signature Washburn guitars, as well as some Deans and some other brands too. He has been to Texas a few times to Dime’s grave, met Vinnie Paul and made a lot of friends in the wild wild west in Texas. It connects with us as even Pantera was from Dallas and we are originally from Nagpur and people don’t expect Metal from there. Sam also plays Guitar in our other Indie project called ‘Paratra’ check it out, we are playing at Blue Frog in Mumbai on the 28th of Jan.
– A decade gone. Can you last a decade more? What do you foresee for your band?
Time will tell if we last or don’t, we can’t really predict the future. One thing is for sure, we are not going to give up on our dream of playing our music all around the world. In the near future we will be releasing another music video to go with the one for ‘Depths of Despair’, which is on our YouTube channel at the moment. We are also working on our next album and hope to release it by mid 2014. We will continue to make music, life would not hold much meaning without it.
– Thanks for the interview. Any closing statement?
Those were some kickass questions Hassan! In closing I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. Your support means a LOT to us and it keeps us going. Please visit us on our official site, Facebook, YouTube and other sites and please come down to watch us play with some AMAZING bands on Feb 9, 2014 at the Thrashfest, Sponsored by Transcending Obscurity! Cheers!
– Hassan Dozakhi